Dental Hygiene

Take advantage of the full Pacific experience by enrolling as a first-year dental hygiene major, or apply for the program as a transfer from another college or university.

Pacific has created a distinctive accelerated Bachelor of Science Degree in Dental Hygiene for highly qualified students. In addition to clinical practice, the baccalaureate hygiene degree allows entry into many positions in teaching, research, administration, public health, private industry and other areas of hygiene practice, as well as application for entry into advanced degree programs.

First-year admission to the Dental Hygiene program is competitive and based on merit. A student may apply as a first-year student in a Dental Hygiene major, completing the prerequisite coursework listed below at Pacific. A high school GPA of at least 3.0 is required, as well as courses in biology, chemistry and other college-preparatory classes.


The first half of this three-year, year-round program focuses on general education courses providing a strong science background and a broad base in the humanities. Professional training takes place in the second half of the program for four semesters. The curriculum provides students with knowledge of oral health and disease as a basis for assuming responsibility to assess, plan, implement, and evaluate dental hygiene services for both the individual patient and community oral health programs. A foundation in basic and dental sciences is further enhanced with advanced courses in pharmacology, medical and dental emergencies, community oral health, ethics and jurisprudence.

Clinical location

The clinical portion of the Dental Hygiene program takes place at Pacific's San Francisco campus, home to other dental programs offered at the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry. This provides increased connection to the school's San Francisco-based dental clinics and programs; enhanced intraprofessional opportunities in the field of oral healthcare; opportunities for dental hygiene students to learn alongside dental students in the DDS, IDS and residency programs; and a large base of patients who utilize the school's clinics. The San Francisco campus is a state-of-the-art facility located in the South of Market (SoMa) district and is highly accessible by all major forms of public transportation, including BART/Muni.

The Dental Hygiene program at Pacific:
  1. Educates individuals who, upon completion of the program, will be professionally competent to provide quality dental hygiene care in an evolving profession
  2. Provides patient-centered, quality care in an efficient clinical model that demonstrates the highest standards of service achievable
  3. Ensures opportunities for community-based, experiential learning
  4. Strives for continuous enhancement through professional development
  5. Promotes humanistic values that respect the dignity of each individual and foster the potential for growth in all of us
  6. Applies theory and data for continuous improvement
  7. Leads in addressing the challenges facing the profession of dental hygiene, including dental education and affordable dental care
Dental Hygiene pinning ceremony

Degree Offered

Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene


First-year student admission

The application deadline for the Dental Hygiene major is Jan. 15, with a decision notification of March 31. 

Transfer student admission

The application period opens May 1, with a deadline of Aug. 15. Learn more about transferring to Pacific at the link below.

Tuition & Financial Aid

For information about tuition and cost, please visit the Financial Aid & Cost link below.

What distinguishes our program and graduates?
Our Humanistic Orientation

University of the Pacific's Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry has long been recognized for the quality of its facilities, faculty, humanistic teaching approach, patient services and community interaction. It will bring these strengths and more to this new program.

Our students note that faculty treat them as peers starting on the first day of school. University of the Pacific places great emphasis on self-confidence and self-esteem. Additionally, the collaborative, non-competitive relationships among current students is considered a great asset.

Career Opportunities

A career in dental hygiene offers multiple opportunities in a variety of settings. About 70% of dental hygienists practice in private dental offices. Providing direct clinical care, the hygienist plays an integral role on the dental team assisting patients to achieve and maintain optimal oral health. Alternatively, hygienists may choose dental hygiene careers in public health, research, management, special needs patient care, teaching and administration. 

A Growing Profession

Dental hygiene is a rapidly growing profession. The U.S. Department of Labor advises that dental hygiene is projected to be one of the 30 fastest-growing occupations. Population growth and greater retention of natural teeth will stimulate demand for dental hygienists. Additionally, the local San Joaquin/Central Valley-area job market is very favorable for dental hygienists.

To advance to the upper-division major coursework at the Dugoni School of Dentistry in San Francisco, students must complete their prerequisite coursework with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Coursework must be completed with a grade of C or higher to advance to the upper-division classes.

In addition to the successful completion of the prerequisite coursework, students are required to have 2 letters of recommendation of their choosing, and have completed a minimum of 20 hours of shadowing with a dental hygienist.

Dental Hygiene majors who began our program as freshmen at the Stockton campus and who earn a GPA of 3.0 or above will apply to the upper-division dental hygiene courses. Since matriculation is not automatic, they will be guaranteed an interview, but not guaranteed admission.

General Education Curriculum

Presented in the first half of this three-year, year-round program are general education courses providing a strong science background and a broad base in the humanities. There is a required course of study during these three semesters and summer session intended to provide the prerequisite background in biology, chemistry, psychology, sociology, English and mathematics needed for dental hygiene science and clinical practice. Students will undertake this portion of their coursework, which is provided by the College of the Pacific, with the general undergraduate student population on the main campus. If you are a transfer student, the course presented in this first half of the programs are the courses for which you will need to have transfer equivalences. 

Core 1
3 units
General Education

Core 2
4 units
General Education

Psychology 31: Intro to Psychology
4 units
General Education Social Inquiry fulfilled

Sociology 51: Intro to Sociology
4 units
General Education Civic & Global responsibilities & Diversity fulfilled

Biology 61: Principles of Biology 
5 units
General Education Scientific Inquiry fulfilled

Chemistry 25: General Chemistry
5 units

Chemistry 27: General Chemistry
5 units

General Education: World Perspectives & Ethics 
4 units

General Education: Artistic Process & Creation

4 units

Mathematics 35: Statistics and Probability
3 units
General Education Quantitative Reasoning fulfilled

Communications 27: Public Speaking
3 units

General Education Language & Narratives

Biology 170: Human Anatomy
5 units

Biology 180: Human Physiology
5 units

Biology 145: Microbiology 
5 units

Total Units = 59

Dental Hygiene Curriculum

Professional training is undertaken in the second half of the program for four semesters. The curriculum provides students with knowledge of oral health and disease as a basis for assuming responsibility to assess, plan, implement, and evaluate dental hygiene services for both the individual patient and community oral health programs. Dental hygienists learn to develop patient counseling programs to encourage health promotion and disease prevention, and provide prescribed clinical patient care for patients of all ages, including those with special needs (medically compromised, mentally or physically challenged, and socially disadvantaged). Introductory courses include head and neck anatomy, dental radiology, oral health education, nutrition and biomaterials.

This foundation in basic and dental sciences is further enhanced with advanced courses in pharmacology, medical and dental emergencies, community oral health, ethics and jurisprudence. This portion of the program will be provided through the School of Dentistry in the dental hygiene facility on the main campus.

First Semester (15 units)

  • Head and Neck Anatomy (2 units)
  • Dental Anatomy (2 unit)
  • Dental Radiology (2 units)
  • Histology/Embryology (2 units)
  • Dental Hygiene Practice (3 units)
  • Pre-Clinical Dental Hygiene (3 units)
  • Oral Health Education (1 units)

Second Semester (18 units)

  • Medical and Dental Emergencies (1 unit)
  • Dental Hygiene Clinic I (5 units)
  • Dental Hygiene Clinic I- Lecture (2 units)
  • Pathology (3 units)
  • Periodontics I (2 units)
  • Pain Management/Local Anesthesia (2 units)
  • Pharmacology (3 units)

Third Semester (18 units)

  • Medical and Dental Emergencies (1 unit)
  • Dental Hygiene Clinic II (7 units)
  • Dental Hygiene Clinic II- Lecture (2 units)
  • Biochemistry and Nutrition (2 units)
  • Community Oral Health (4 units)
  • Patient Management/Special Needs (2units)

Fourth Semester (18 units)

  • Dental Hygiene Clinic III (7 units)
  • Dental Hygiene Clinic III-Lecture (2 units)
  • Periodontics II (2 units)
  • Dental Materials (2 units)
  • Ethics and Jurisprudence (2 units)
  • Senior Project (3 units)
    • Research

Total Units = 69

Through emphasis on the integration of general education, biomedical science, dental science, dental hygiene science and clinical practice components, students are taught to problem solve, interact with the dentist and the dental team, and treat a wide variety of patients. Upon completion of the program, students will be prepared to provide quality dental care to the public and to supplement and adapt their knowledge and skills throughout their professional lives.

To accommodate the accelerated nature of the program (a three-year bachelor’s degree), students must take classes three semesters per year (rather than the typical two semesters per year schedule) in the first two years of the program. This means that students should add 50% to the charges for tuition and housing/food when looking at the normal yearly charges (that are based on a two-semester school year). Increased annual cost is balanced by the three-year vs. traditional four-year program design.

1. What information do I need to submit by the application deadline?

Required submissions include an application form, essay, transcripts, standardized test scores and letters of recommendation.

2. If I apply as a transfer student, what are the recommended prerequisite general education course equivalents at my college?

Course equivalents for many colleges can be found on the Dental Hygiene Transfer Admission page.

3. Do I need to have all prerequisite courses completed at the time of application?

You may have coursework in progress at the time of application. All prerequisite coursework must be complete prior to entry into the professional portion of the program. Transcripts confirming completion must be filed with the Office of Admission.

4. May I utilize advance placement credits for prerequisite coursework?

The University has a protocol for utilization of advanced placement credits, which the Office of Admission will be happy to review with applicants. E-mail or call 209.946-2211.

5. If I am a graduate of a dental assisting program, will I need to take all courses in the professional portion of the program?

Yes. Vocational units from a dental assisting program are not applicable for advance placement in the professional portion of the program. Skill proficiency may, however, make coursework easier in given subjects.

6. What is the application process if my prerequisite coursework was completed in a foreign country?

Upon application, the Office of Admission will research your course equivalents and advise you of any additional prerequisite coursework that might be necessary prior to application. We recommend application at the earliest possible date, as researching equivalents may be time intensive.

7. If I am a practicing dentist from another country, can I apply to the Dental Hygiene program?

You are eligible to apply to Pacific’s Dental Hygiene program if the prerequisites are met. You might also be interested in applying to the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry’s International Dental Studies program, a two-year program that provides qualified graduates of foreign dental programs the opportunity to earn the Doctor of Dental Surgery degree. For more information, please call 415.929.6688.

The application deadline for transfer students is Aug. 15 for the following January.

The Dental Hygiene program does not offer advanced standing in the professional portion of the program. Foreign dental school graduates must attend all dental hygiene classes in preparation for National and State Dental Hygiene Board examination.

8. What if a student isn’t accepted into the Dental Hygiene program, but wishes to enter Pacific under another major with the intent to change majors (into hygiene) in future?

Students are welcome to apply for admission to the University at large with the understanding that application for transfer into the professional portion of the hygiene program is on a competitive basis. An applicant who is a current student of the University of the Pacific will be guaranteed an interview for transfer admission into the program; however, they will not be guaranteed admission into the professional portion of the Dental Hygiene program based solely on doing prerequisite work at Pacific.

9. If accepted, can I take Dental Hygiene coursework on a part-time basis?

The coursework schedule, once accepted into professional portion of the program, must be completed in four sequential semesters of full-time coursework. The course schedule is anticipated to run from approximately 8 or 9 a.m. through 4 or 5 p.m. daily.